National gun safety advocates and Iowa Democrats on Thursday put pressure on Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds to veto a bill sitting on her desk that would loosen firearm laws amid recent upticks in gun violence.
On a phone call organized by national anti-gun violence organization Everytown for Gun Safety, lawmakers, policy experts and law enforcement officials called the legislation “radical” and “extreme” in light of the past week’s mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado.
The Iowa Senate debated and voted to advance the legislation that would cut current state permit requirements and therefore background checks for gun ownership on Monday, at the exact time that ten people were killed by a gunman in the Colorado grocery store.
“Our perspective is that we must do more than just pray for those victims and their families, and we must do more to honor their memories than just fly the flags at half-staff,” said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Zach Wahls on the press call.
“We have to do everything that we can to prevent this senseless violence in the future, and so I say today to Gov. Reynolds, for the safety of our families and the safety of our communities, please veto this dangerous legislation, and let’s start over.”
Everytown Deputy State Policy Director Andrew Karwoski said the bill was dangerous because it eliminates background checks and permits, which are “at the core of any effective gun violence prevention strategy.”
“Iowa’s background check system has worked well for years. Repealing this law would be a major blow for public safety in Iowa,” Karwoski said. “We hope the governor would veto this extreme legislation.”
Retired St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom noted on the call that in Missouri, the year before he became Chief, the state repealed a law requiring comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, which led to an increase in homicides and firearm suicides.
“I witnessed firsthand the deadly impacts repealing had on strong, effective laws,” Isom said.
“After the repeal of the law, my state’s homicide rate increased by up to 27%. And the firearm suicide rate also rose by 16%. These were deaths that I believe could have been prevented.”
Calling Iowa’s legislation a “radical degradation of public safety,” Isom highlighted law enforcement’s noticeable absence from supporting this bill. The Iowa Police Chief Association has come out in opposition, while there are no Iowa law enforcement or public safety organization lobbyists or officers registered in favor.
Polk County Sheriff Kevin Schneider, a Democrat, said the bill would put law enforcement at risk because “people will now have access to guns with the same convenience as buying a bottle of water — no questions asked.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Reynolds declined to comment on her decision to sign the legislation.
“I’m waiting for that to come to my desk,” she said. “We’ll do a thorough evaluation, as I always have.”
In the past, the Republican governor has said that the state has “reasonable and responsible gun laws on the books.”
“I call on her to hold true to those words and not to adopt this extreme law,” said Democratic Rep. Christina Bohannan on the Everytown press call.
by Isabella Murray
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